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Decorative Arts and Design

This earthenware transfer-printed trivet depicts images of the novelist Harriet Beecher Stowe surrounded by characters from her abolitionist novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852). The trivet was made in England for the American market just after the book’s publication.

Here, the titular character, Uncle Tom, is shown with chained, clasped hands beside his wife and child and other characters from the novel in adoration of Stowe, who is cast as a white “savior.” The depiction emphasizes that the abolitionist cause in the nineteenth century was corrupted by views that Black Americans were inferior to whites in the movement for their freedom.
MEDIUM Glazed earthenware
  • Place Manufactured: England
  • DATES ca. 1855
    DIMENSIONS 3/8 x 6 5/8 in. (1 x 16.8 cm)  (show scale)
    MARKINGS Unmarked
    ACCESSION NUMBER 2013.37.1
    CREDIT LINE Caroline A.L. Pratt Fund
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION A circular earthenware trivet with a white ground and a central motif transfer-printed in teal ink. The central medallion depicts a bust portrait of Harriet Beecher Stowe above a rectangular label inscribed: “Ms. HARRIET BEECHER STOWE/ THE AUTHOR OF/ UNCLE TOM’S CABIN”. Eight characters of the novel stand in an arch around the medallion in various attitudes of respect and reverence, the figure of a girl at the top center holding a halo over the portrait’s head . A whip lies inert in the foreground and the group is surrounded by tall weeds interspersed between the figures. The raised rim along the circumference decorated with a thin teal line. CONDITION: Very good condition.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION After George Cruikshank (British, 1792–1878). Trivet, ca. 1855. Glazed earthenware, 3/8 x 6 5/8 in. (1 x 16.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Caroline A.L. Pratt Fund, 2013.37.1. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2013.37.1_PS11.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 2013.37.1_PS11.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2020
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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